What Is Military Coercion and What Factors Determine Its Success or Failure?

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Military coercion strategy has long since existed as a means to enforce a desired set of outcomes, behaviours, or policies. The definition of coercion covers a lot of theoretical ground, including both compellence and deterrence. The successes and failures of military coercion can be seen through the mechanisms of, Destruction, Punishment, and Denial that theorists have argued are part of the methods of coercion. The effectiveness of military coercion may be linked to the credibility, capability and communication of a threat. These factors that determine what military coercion is are highlighted through historical examples, including the Cuban Missile Crises, nuclear warfare, counterinsurgency and the Kosovo air campaign. A clear definition of Strategy is the “art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.” Military coercion is seen as a military means that will enable a the use of threatened force, this may include the limited use of actual force in order to back up the threat or to induce an adversary to act in a certain way . Thomas Schelling argues that both compellence and deterrence are fundamental to what he terms “the diplomacy of violence” this being the art of coercion and intimidation. Compellence focuses on the methods of making an adversary take action to do something not originally planned. This was supported by Schelling, a ‘…threat intended to keep him from starting something’ . Conversely, Deterrence is outlined as focusing methods that will ultimately make the adversary not do something initially planned. The 1962 Cuban Missile crises is a clear of example of the implementation of compellence and deterrence. President Kennedy’s strategy to establish a blockade around Cuba effectively stopped further importation of nuclear missiles. However, the US needed to consider the need to apply political and military pressures so as to remove the missiles from the country. Threats of military invasion as well as the...
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